Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners to Baron Schulenburg, 14 February 1777

The American Commissioners to Baron Schulenburg5

ALS:6 The Thomas Gilcrease Foundation, Tulsa, Okla.

Paris Feby. 14th: 1777

May it please your Excellency

We have the honor of inclosing the Declaration of the Independancy of the United States of North America, with the Articles of their Confederation; which we desire you to take the earliest Opportunity of laying before his Majesty, the King of Prussia; At the same time We wish he may be assured of the earnest desire of the United States to obtain his Freindship; and by a free Commerce, to establish an intercourse between their distant Countries, which they are Confident must be mutually beneficial. The state of the Commerce of the United States, and the Advantages which must result to both Countries from the Establishment of a Commercial intercourse; We shall if agreeable to his Majesty lay before him. Meantime We take the Liberty of assuring your Excellency that the Reports of the Advantages gained by his Brittannic Majestys Troops over those of the United States are greatly exaggerated, and many of them without Foundation, especially those which assert that an Accommodation is about to take place, there being no probability of such an Event, by the latest intelligence We have received from America. We have the honor to be with the most profound respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedient and Very Humble Servants

B Franklin
Silas Deane

Commissioners Plenipotentiary for the United States of North America

Addressed: To / his Excellency / Baron de Scolenborg

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Friedrich Wilhelm von der Schulenburg (1742–1815) was a Prussian minister who served with one brief intermission from 1771 to 1806, and under Frederick II held simultaneously a great number of offices; the commissioners addressed him, we assume, as minister of trade. For his career see Bernhard Rosenmöller, Schulenburg-Kehnert unter Friedrich dem Grossen (Berlin and Leipzig, 1914). In 1776 he was involved in Deane’s effort to obtain Prussian goods in return for American tobacco; the negotiations broke down, in part because the King was opposed to establishing commercial relations. Friedrich Kapp, Friedrich der Grosse und die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika (Leipzig, 1871), pp. 15–21. The commissioners, as this letter indicates, refused to give up hope of overcoming all the obstacles in the way. Schulenburg politely discouraged them in his reply below, March 15, but they tried again on April 19.

6In Silas Deane’s hand.

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